The placenta is the unique organ that attaches to the top or the side of the wall of the uterus through the umbilical cord. Its major function is to provide nutrients and oxygen to the fetus, but it also performs more functions such as production of estrogen, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), and progesterone which is essential for the growth of a healthy fetus.
Placenta delivery is actually the third state of labor. For most births, the placenta is always delivered after the baby has been delivered. When a woman gives birth, delivering her placenta is crucial to her health as failure to do so can result in life-threatening complications such as severe bleeding and other unwanted side effects.
Placenta delivery is significant for both vaginal and cesarean births. When a woman delivers through the vagina, the uterus will continue contracting thereby moving the placenta forward for delivery. At this point, these contractions are as strong as labor contractions and some women may be too overwhelmed by the joy of seeing their babies that they fail to notice when the placenta is being delivered. However, some doctors may press your stomach or instruct you to continue to push so that the placenta can advance forward. Placenta delivery after a vaginal birth is often quick and normally happens within 5 minutes even though it can sometimes take longer.
For women who deliver via C-section, the doctor physically removes the placenta before closing in the incision in the uterus and stomach. After C-section, the doctor always takes measures such as massaging the top of the uterus to encourage it to contract and to begin to shrink. The doctor may further prescribe medicines like Pitocin to help the uterus to contract and become firm.
After delivery, the doctor always takes his time to properly examine the placenta to ensure that all of it has been delivered. The placenta has two sides; the maternal side which has a dark red color and the fetal side which is characterized by shiny and almost translucent color. If the doctor discovers that any side of the placenta is left in the uterus, he is forced to follow some procedures to be assured that it comes out completely.